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Why is left so disappointed in Obama?

Politico top dog editor John Harris is leading his site with another one of his big-think conversation-driving pieces, and this one tries to explain the left's disappointment with Obama:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs's recent complaint about the ingratitude of the "professional left" is a small symptom of a larger problem for President Barack Obama: He has left wide swaths of the Democratic Party uncertain of his core beliefs.

In interviews, a variety of political activists, operatives and commentators from across the party's ideological spectrum presented similar descriptions of Obama's predicament: By declining to speak clearly and often about his larger philosophy -- and insisting that his actions are guided not by ideology but a results-oriented "pragmatism" -- he has bred confusion and disappointment among his allies, and left his agenda and motives vulnerable to distortion by his enemies.

The president's reluctance to be a Democratic version of Ronald Reagan, who spoke without apology about his vaulting ideological ambitions, has produced an odd turn of events: Obama has been the most activist domestic president in decades, but the philosophy behind his legislative achievements remains muddy in the eyes of many supporters and skeptics alike.

This is certainly something that many on the left think, but Harris is missing a core ingredient of the left's critique, at least as I understand it. In particular, what many object to is that Obama and his top aides remained captive for too long to a Beltway culture that fetishizes bipartisanship. This led Obama and Dems to squander an early chance to define the GOP, at a moment of extreme weakness, as wholly invested in the nation's failure. It gave Republicans valuable time to regroup and to project good intentions. And it constrained the White House and Dems from rallying the public early on behind a more ambitious agenda than the one they eventually threw their weight behind.

The White House's early fetishizing of bipartisanship manifested itself in last summer's futile pursuit of Republican support for health care reform (see Grassley, Chuck), which delayed the process for months. This played into the hands of Republicans, who transparently were pursuing a strategy of playing for time in order to get the public to sour on the process, undercutting the public's willingness to embrace Obama as a reformer. It also meant health care wasn't passed by the time Scott Brown snatched Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, forcing Dems to pass it through reconciliation, opening them up to more GOP attacks on Dems' alleged gaming of the process for nefarious and partisan ends.

The fetishizing of bipartisanship, and the hope that a few Republicans could be induced to back his agenda, is also what led Obama to avoid taking a strong, bottom-line stand on core principles, such as the public option. White House advisers also seemed reluctant for Obama to stake real political capital on provisions that were likely to fail, which also contributed to his mixed messages on core liberal priorities.

To be clear, I tend to think this critique is overstated: Obama has passed the most ambitious domestic agenda since FDR, and there are some grounds for believing that the White House got as much as it possibly could have. But my bet is that if the White House hadn't fetishized bipartisanship early on; if Obama had drawn a sharper contrast with the GOP from the outset; and if he had taken a stronger stand on behalf of core priorities even if they were destined for failure, his lefty critics would be more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

That said, presuming Obama's will be a two-term presidency, we are not even one-fourth of the way through his tenure. By the time Obama retires to private life, this whole debate underway about Obama's early failings could ultimately be reduced to a mere asterisk, or even forgotten completely.

By Greg Sargent  |  August 23, 2010; 11:50 AM ET
Categories:  Health reform , Political media  
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Comments

I don't care *why* Obama avoided taking a strong, bottom-line stand on core principles - the fact is, he didn't.

Posted by: sbj3 | August 23, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

You're right sbj, he should never have believed that the GOP might work in good faith to advance the interests of the country.

What could he have been thinking keeping an open mind to GOP positions and proposals?

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 23, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Yawn.

More "Dems in Disarray" stories, when poll after poll shows a decline in support for Pres. Obama amoung liberals which could just as easily be attributed to the economy wearing down support across the board (which has also been show by polls).

I'll prepare myself for more of the disengenuous whining and GOP spin about Obama not having strong principles that sbj has kicked off. Such adorable hypocrisy from the party of "Protect the Constitution by Repealing all the Amendments".

*rolls eyes*

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | August 23, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Greg's post certainly mirrors my own frustration with Obama. Remember all that talk about getting 80 votes for the stimulus bill? With Mitch McConnell believing that "bipartisanship" means heads I win, tails you lose, that is to say, the compromise has to be center-right, then Obama was doomed from the start, but it took him and his aides way too long to see that.

What I had hoped was that Obama would early on marginalize the far-right GOP, the faction that refused to cooperate. I think this is what he started out with the intention of doing, but he overestimated his persuasive abilities. The GOP had such discipline that there was no one in the GOP for him to compromise with, and then the conservadems started their diva dances, and then the Mass seat went to Brown and the possibility of compromise was really gone.

It has been really frustrating, but largely because he raised hopes so much.

Posted by: Mimikatz | August 23, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

The problem is not *why* didn't he take a stand, the problem is we don't know *what* his stand is. Reagan didn't get everything he wanted - for whatever reason (lack of bipartisan support, pragmatism, planets incorrectly aligned) - but we always knew where he stood.

@cmc: Your defense of Obama is to argue that he was/is naive? Great - I think that's the same argument Biden and Hillary were making...

Posted by: sbj3 | August 23, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Obama would have signed off on the left most agenda no doubt that would have made it through Congress. If single payer had made it through Congress, he would have probably signed off on it.

If cap n trade would have made it, he would have signed off on it.

DADT repeal, massive investments on clean energy, etc.

I'm under the impression Obama often didn't want to inject Presidential politics into the sausage making process that is Congress. People hate Congress. Injecting himself constantly would have done nothing for the debate imho and wouldn't have helped the process along in many instances. Injecting himself would have just turned him into a lightning rod for opposition and further allowed the public to view him as an ideolog.

But, I do believe the WH overestimated the sincerity of Republicans and allowed them to drag out the process which I strongly think was the plan all along. Bennet and Grassley both got in there early, got their ideas implemented, then quickly pivoted to oppose the overall plan after they got what they wanted.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 23, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

What about adhering to promises? Does this matter at all? Come on media - do your job.

Remember any of these:
1. I'll limit earmarks - the first bill he signed was loaded with earmarks.
2. Gitmo will close in a year - really?
3. A new era of bipartisianship - not even close.
4. Stimulus will hold unemployment at 8% - not even close
5. It will be a new Washington - check out all the backroom deals on the health care bill.
6. I'll negotiate with Iran and others - no preconditions - how has this worked out?
7. Most transparent administration ever - The President doesn't even hold press conferences any more. How is that from open government!

Come on media - start doing your job and hold the President accountable!

Posted by: sarno | August 23, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

BBQ -- did you miss the part where I said the critique is "overstated," and that it may be reduced to an asterisk?

:)

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 23, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

You presume Obama's will be a 2-term presidency? Why? The reason Reagan was able to rally from similarly low popularity ratings was that he stayed true to his views and his campaign, and that kept his base together for '84.

Obama has seriously compromised the relationship with *his* base by needlessly triangulating his actions. When he needs that base in 2012, will it still be there?

Posted by: RalphKramden | August 23, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

If you think believing that your political adversaries have good intentions and that they are not cynical panderers constitutes naivete, then I guess you've got me sbj.

But you realize I'm sure that means you are agreeing that the GOP is nothing but a group of nihilists intent on America's failure.

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 23, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

It can be an asterisk if he changes and starts artculting an overarching view as well as drawing real partisan lines.

He needs to get out of his head a bit and into his gut. Instead of jokes about R and D for sriving, he needs to call out Republican obstruction and show the pain in people's lives it is causing.

Posted by: TomP4 | August 23, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

you mean how reagan raised taxes, ran up the debt, reformed social security and worked on amnesty for undocumented immigrants?

others said it first, but it bears repeating: reagan would be run out the the party by today's teabagger rightwing republicans.

Posted by: blahgblogwordpresscom | August 23, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

sarno, every time the President was on TV the teatards would cry about how much he's on TV and the rest of the media would also ask on cue, "Is the President Overexposed?"

I felt like barfing every time I turned to network news at how they played off the right wing talking points.

Off topic but Ron Paul is for the Cordoba House. I feel a rift in the tea party movement as the corporate backed astroturfers lead by AFP and Freedomworks and those who consider Bachmann/Sarah/Demint their tea party representation split with the original Rand Paul factions of the teaparty.

http://original.antiwar.com/paul/2010/08/22/mosque-demagoguery-is-bipartisan/

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 23, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Speaking from the left, I am tired of everyone giving Obama the benefit of the doubt. That it was "The fetishizing of bipartisanship, and the hope that a few Republicans could be induced to back his agenda" that kept him from taking a stand on core principles. He had no public option in him, or he would have pushed it. On economic matters, he has only Wall Street in his heart or we wouldn't have Geithner as sycophant and proxy for the richest handful enormously enriched by the Fed balance sheet and the Treasury while middle class assets are squeezed out of existence by those very same beneficiaries whose actions were causal in the first place. The frequent claim that it "pulled us back from the brink" is absolute B.S. and allowing such excuse for grandest larceny ever (still being) perpetrated upon America is pure lunacy. And Obama doesn't have the principle of peace in his heart or he sure wouldn't be continuing all the filthy military opportunism this country has such a well deserved reputation for. To say that "Obama has passed the most ambitious domestic agenda since FDR" is to compare Obama's ridiculously watered down and purely corporatist gruel with the true and principled agenda of the New Deal. And the comparison is faint indeed.

Posted by: rtshonolulu | August 23, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

This subject again? I've got other things to do.

Posted by: AllButCertain | August 23, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Here's the PolitiFact Box Score for those keeping score at hom:

Promises Kept -- 121
Compromises -- 39
Promises Broken -- 22
Stalled -- 81
In the Works -- 240
Not yet rated -- 3

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/

22 promises broken out of 506 made.

So he has only broken 4% of his promises.

He has kept, compromised on, or is still working on a combined 80% of his promises.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 23, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

rts,

okay.

but that does bring up the question: what do you think mccain/palin would have done by now? what do you think they'd do in the next two years?

Posted by: blahgblogwordpresscom | August 23, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

If you only listened to rtshonolulu, you've think everything the President singed off on didn't benefit those in need at all and failed to make the lives of millions better off.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 23, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Well now I'm going to get some leftwing hate: The problem has far more to do with the far left than with Obama.

I saw it during the election over and over: the lefties kept saying things along the lines of, "If Obama doesn't do X, it is all over," or, "Obama needs to hit back hard, or else," or, "Obama would stand a chance, but not unless he does X."

Obama would ignore the wailing of the left, and he was right to. Every time the lefty critics were proven wrong.

What is going on now is no different. We have backseat critics, mostly the same critics I mentioned above, loudly proclaiming that Obama has to do or say or act in a certain way; or pass certain legislation, or ZOMG the sky will fall.

These people may be well intentioned, but they often have no idea of the realities Obama faces. Obama has no magic wand; he can't shake the wand and get enough votes for the Public Option (or whatever else it may be that the left wants.) They want the impossible, even if trying for the impossible makes the possible unattainable.

Obama is a pragmatist, he isn't going to pick a fight he can't win to appease his base when there are literally thousands of more important things to do; especially not if picking that fight makes the outcome Obama desires even less likely.

I'd bet that even if Obama had tried to give the hard leftists everything they asked for the hard leftists in question would still be upset with him. Upset is just a natural state for many commentators of both sides. The difference is that lefties who are upset are far more likely to go after fellow lefties than righties are likely to go after fellow righties. Maybe Reagan's rule about not attacking fellow righties is something the left could learn, but I doubt it. The left sucks at message discipline.

PS – The left likes to pretend that they, and they alone, elected Obama. That isn’t true. Many centrists voted for Obama. For the far left to say that Obama owes them, and that anything short of a totally progressive policy on everything, is Obama letting them down is unfair. If you paid attention during the election Obama promised bipartisanship, not rigid left-leaning policy.

Posted by: nisleib | August 23, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Mikeformarlington --

What we don't need is the prepackaged teleprompter sessions which seems to be all we get. How about some dialog with the press and Americans about the questions we have. Besides I am tired of Gibbs.

______________
sarno, every time the President was on TV the teatards would cry about how much he's on TV and the rest of the media would also ask on cue, "Is the President Overexposed?"

Posted by: sarno | August 23, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Greg, how many articles do we need to have postulating on the left's disappointment with Obama when by far the majority on the left isn't disappointed but actually quite happy with him (what's his approval rating amongst liberals again?). This article just serves to fan the flames especially when you don't seem to agree with it 100% - it allows the WP to present it in a headline entitled "Why the left is disappointed in Obama" as if that's a matter of fact when actually the situation is much more nuanced then that.

I also think it's a bit rich to describe the public option as a "core principle" when it would be much more accurate to describe Obama's core principle in healthcare as "expanding coverage and reducing costs" - something which the healthcare reform act does pretty well all things considered.

As for his 'overarching view' why isn't that clear? It's perfectly clear to me - he believes in solutions that (in his view) drive the country forward, makes it more equal, looks after the weakest and disadvantaged while still minding innovation and prosperity. Part of his 'overarching view' was that while the left and right disagreed on a number of things there were a number of things that both parties agreed on that would be beneficial for the country and instead of merely arguing over disagreements and doing nothing it would be better to concentrate on areas of agreement both to achieve concrete pragmatic goals and to ensure that all americans worked towards a common goal. That's not an unworthy 'overarching view' in my humble opinion and it's not absent any principal either. It's easy to forget that achieving consensus and forging bipartisan agreement where possible - in an attempt to change the way washington works - was also part of his core promises as candidate and was one of the main reasons that he attracted so much hope.


Posted by: homeruk | August 23, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Ethan. We don't want to know what promises he kept. Those are irrelevant!

We need to stay angry! RAWR!

I'm an angry Democrat!!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 23, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Good post nisleib, I agree 100%.

Obama has been an INCREDIBLE President.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 23, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

sarno, I'm pretty certain you are aware every President in modern times uses a teleprompter.

He's also had question/answer sessions with the public.

Don't those count? Or do you only consider questions from the press relevant?

I don't understand where you're coming from.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 23, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I actually think that the Harris article has some truth to it.

What are Obama's core principles? I am a huge supporter and I don't know that.

We know that he is anti-Iraq war but beyond that I am not sure. However, I have a better sense of what Obama believes in foreign policy vs domestic policy.

The problem with "pragmatism" without a strong core value leaves others to define who you are.

It is up to Obama to do some soul searching on his vacation and come out and stake a claim on what he believes in terms of Domestic core policies.

The problem that many stated about George Bush was that he was so "black or white" on issues and there needed to be a little nuance.

The problem with Obama may be that there is just too much nuance. The problem with that is many fold: 1. this allows others to define who he is. 2. questions arise on Obama's leadership because a leader LEADS on what he believes rather than reaches a "concensus".

Perhaps Obama doesn't know who he is yet. Well it is time that he figures it out and starts leading.

I have high hopes for Obama to reach a point where he knows what he wants and goes for it. It is when Obama reaches that point is when he will reach his full potential as president.

Posted by: maritza1 | August 23, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

If you're mad about Gitmo not being closed, you might want to talk to Congress about that. Obama asked them for money to close it in March '09 and they flat out refused. 90 senators voted against it.

He's had to get Justice to close it piecemeal because his own party didn't have the guts to send him a measly amount of cash.

Posted by: dkp01 | August 23, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

You also omit to mention other 'core principles' that he did in fact take a pretty strong stand on: the independent medicare advisory board, the consumer protection agency, expanding health insurance to 30 million more people, student loan reform, the mosque issue, reforming education, nuclear disarmament, aggressive diplomacy around the world, investment in clean energy, saving detroit, drawing down from Iraq, prosecuting the war in afghanistan properly (agree or not, he took a stand on it) - the list goes on and on. so imho for people to complain that they don't know what his underlying philosophy is is simply absurd.

Posted by: homeruk | August 23, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

TBH, here's why I think the left is critical.

That's how half these commentators got to where they got. They criticized Bush and Republicans while they were in power. They established a fan based full of people that knew only how to criticize.

When Obama and the Dems took over, many rarely were able to point to the good. They found it so natural to nit pick and find everything bad to complain about and focused on that and their audience followed along.

OK...let me have it! :P

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 23, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"We need to stay angry! RAWR!"

Hahaha, totally.

"He didn't get the public option, so therefore he's a Right Wing Corporatist yadda yadda."

That mentality is so old and tired. People want to complain, especially when they are ill-informed or misinformed.

The fact is that Obama is doing great.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 23, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

> and there are some grounds for believing that the White House got as much as it possibly could have.

Such as?

With the stimulus bill and health care, numerous progressive/Democratic provisions were removed in order to gain Republican votes. In the end, neither bill garnered measurable Republic support, which left the impression that the administration had negotiated against itself. Obama claims to be a poker player, yet his basic strategy seems to be to show his hole cards before the dealer turns over the flop.

It is also relevant to note that Obama has deeply disappointed the left on national security and civil liberties issues. He has actually moved to the right of the Bush administration on several issues - including indefinite detention and the right to assassinate American citizens in the US. Obama has embraced several policies he claimed to abhor while on the campaign trail, and has lost a lot of grassroots support as a result. Yet, somehow, this fact always seems to get omitted from media reports and blog posts on the subject.

Posted by: jsesq | August 23, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

And don't forget the question and answer sessions he had with Congress. Remember, Cantor brought a big stack of papers so he could discuss the issues in good faith.

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 23, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

nisleib: "The left likes to pretend that they, and they alone, elected Obama. That isn’t true. Many centrists voted for Obama. For the far left to say that Obama owes them, and that anything short of a totally progressive policy on everything, is Obama letting them down is unfair. If you paid attention during the election Obama promised bipartisanship, not rigid left-leaning policy."

This bears repeating over and over. (I'm not a centrist, either...)

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 23, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"With the stimulus bill and health care, numerous progressive/Democratic provisions were removed in order to gain Republican votes." and to gain the conservadem support. There were quite a few of them. Condrad/Baucus/Landrieu/Nelson of NE/Lincoln/Pryor. I'm sure I'm missing others.

I will say I do agree with you on some of the National Security issues. Sure, he eliminated torture for good during his admin I don't believe I like the idea of assassinations. If for some reason we get a whack job like Palin in the WH, God forbid, she could have one of her misguided revelations and try to take out perceived enemies.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 23, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious stuff, Greg. So letting Pelosi and Reed ramrod healthcare through with NO, ZERO, ZILCH Republican input constitutes spending too much time on bipartisanship?

Read and learn. There are two reasons it took so long to produce a healthcare bill:
1. It was easy for the Republicans to delay the bill because Obamacare is a new entitlement and, as such, INCREASES costs instead of CONTROLLING costs as promised, and
2. The liberal branch of the Democratic party reached too far and couldn't convince the conservative branch that their bill had merit.

Posted by: dknight12345 | August 23, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Looking at those PolitiFact numbers again, if you subtract the 323 promises that are In The Works, Stalled, or Not Rated, you have 182 promises that Obama made that have had a final evaluation.

That means he has:

KEPT -- 66%
COMPROMISED -- 21%
KEPT or COMPROMISED -- 87%
BROKEN -- 12%

That is a pretty awesome record any way you slice it.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 23, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

"with NO, ZERO, ZILCH Republican input constitutes spending too much time on bipartisanship?"

You forgot to add apart from the months while the bills were still in their committees. Oh, and the part were they were aloud to make amendments to be voted on during the floor debate.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 23, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

O/T but kind of interesting to anyone interested in the PA Senate race:

"Pennsylvania Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak (D) is on a bit of an endorsement streak, with former Sen. Chuck Hagel announcing he will join Sestak on the campaign trail Tuesday.

Hagel (R-NE) told the Associated Press he supports Sestak over former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) in the race for Sen. Arlen Specter's seat. Hagel said Sestak "has demonstrated during his two terms in Congress that he puts what's best for the country before the interests of his party," the AP reported.


http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/08/chuck-hagel-backing-sestak.php?ref=fpa

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 23, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

But this has brought out some good comments from Homeruk, nisleib and Mike.

Posted by: AllButCertain | August 23, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"Sen. Chuck Hagel announcing he will join Sestak on the campaign trail Tuesday"

Wow, that's pretty awesome!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 23, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

It should be noted that one of the promises he broke, the promise not to raise taxes, was broken due to the fact that there's a tax on tanning beds in the health care bill. I don't mind taxing Snooki.

Posted by: dkp01 | August 23, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"Obama has been the most activist domestic president in decades, but the philosophy behind his legislative achievements remains muddy in the eyes of many supporters and skeptics alike."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I agree he has been the most activist president ever! But his philosophy behind his legislative achievments (funny, I thought congress did that)is far from muddy! He is a Socialist! With Dictatorial goals!!
He insists on pushing his ideology rather than listen to the American People!!!
That is why his numbers are so low!!
That is why he is a one term president!!!

Posted by: thornegp2626 | August 23, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

thornegp2626!!!

You sure seem excited!!!

This is fun!! I like pie!!!!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 23, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Yawn.

More "Dems in Disarray" stories, when poll after poll shows a decline in support for Pres. Obama amoung liberals which could just as easily be attributed to the economy wearing down support across the board (which has also been show by polls).

I'll prepare myself for more of the disengenuous whining and GOP spin about Obama not having strong principles that sbj has kicked off. Such adorable hypocrisy from the party of "Protect the Constitution by Repealing all the Amendments".

*rolls eyes*

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness
************************
Can we get this poster a column?

Frankly, I think the self appointed left and right are two sides of the same coin. Loud, deluded, and minus the basic understanding of civics, the constitution, political reality, and facts. That this President has managed to put together a remarkable track record of accomplishments that are ignored by both sides because it doesn't fit into their whiny narratives- "Obama is a socialist muslim and no, we are not racists" (right) or "Why can't Obama magically create laws we like?" (left) - is frustrating. Then you realize that MSM has no interest in news and information -spittle laden shouting by the left and the right in this country is what it wants to show.

That you have to go to Comedy Central to get the truth these days is remarkable.

Posted by: LABC | August 23, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Harris article makes one big mistake and misses one big point: The fact that Obama opposed the Individual Mandate in the primaries and Hillary supported it puts him to her LEFT, not RIGHT. As Obama said, if the mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelesness by mandating everyone get a house. And then, of course, he went and passed the mandate. That is why millions of liberals like me are furious not because of the things he didn't fight hard enough for like the public option, which we can still get, but because of the BAD things that he has done, namely a mandate to buy into an unreformed system, which is bad policy and even worse politics.

Posted by: michaelh81 | August 23, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Following the nightmare that was George Bush, many liberals had extremely high hopes for Obama. Obama's campaign fed these hopes.

I agree that Obama was very unrealistic about bipartisanship given the utterly partisan nature of the republicans. He failed his liberal supporters by refusing to investigate and hold the Bush administration accountable for its crimes. Some of these crimes have even been continued, such as the undermining of civil liberties through illegal surveillance (etc.) and the war in Afghanistan. Obama made deals with corporate interests and did a very poor job with healthcare reform. It's no wonder liberals are disappointed.

At the same time, many liberals have failed to notice that Obama is not only up against republican obstructionism, but he also faces a media (mainstream as well as wacko) that has is biased against him. The media, including the Post, has done a terrible job, consistently spinning events and outcomes against Obama. Many any liberals have fallen for this.

Posted by: dougd1 | August 23, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I voted for that Harvard woose
I campaigned for him, donated money, raised money.

Come November, I will NOT (NEVER) vote for the obstructionist Republicans. But I won't leave my house too.

President "too cool to fight for anything" Obama will discover what it means to spit in the face of one's base.

Posted by: Whispers | August 23, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Darn those dirty effing hippies!

If only they would have clapped louder, unemployment would be 7.0% and falling, instead of 9.5% and rising.

The "Good War" would be a Great War!

And endlessly trying to appease the Republicans would have gotten some votes, instead of lousier versions of the same legislation with no GOP support.

Darned DFHs! It's all their fault!
~

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | August 23, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"That you have to go to Comedy Central to get the truth these days is remarkable."

It's where I get my news.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 23, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"This led Obama and Dems to squander an early chance to define the GOP, at a moment of extreme weakness, as wholly invested in the nation's failure."

LOL. Actually, this is exactly what they tried to do but failed miserably. Partisan hacks like Sargent may view this of a failure of bi-partisanship. Instead it was just another failure of partisanship. Can't expect mindless partisans like Sargent to understand that.

Posted by: bobmoses | August 23, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

michaelh81: "The fact that Obama opposed the Individual Mandate in the primaries and Hillary supported it puts him to her LEFT, not RIGHT."

Universal coverage has been liberal dogma for eons. Hillary wacked at him about the mandate because without it, universal coverage is not achievable.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 23, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

My wife says not to believe anything that come out of his mouth. That way there's no disappointment.

Posted by: JAH3 | August 23, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Kids are now being asked to bring toilet paper and other basic supplies to school to make up for budget constraints....what a damn sad day...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/business/economy/15supplies.html?_r=1

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 23, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it's that beneficial to keep highlighting he so-called disappointment of the "professional left". It is obviously too early to claim success or failure while the economy is in the doldrums. There may be a small percentage of progressives who question Obama's motives, but generally I think we do what we always do, push for a more progressive agenda. Someone has to do it. If we are silent then the status quo or weak legislation ensues.

If there's a renewed push for a PO I'm on it, if there's a group petitioning against cuts to Social Security I'm in it, if there are organizations calling for Warren's appointment to head the CFPB I'm a member and if there are calls to get out of Afghanistan in a reasonable time frame I'm on the phone. And if the protests against the community center two blocks away from "ground zero" run counter to our promise of religious freedom then I'm on the opposite side of that issue.

What's more important to me than the President's stand on issues important to me is my stand on these issues. If I'm willing to compromise it's at the end of the debate. What's not up for grabs right now though is putting Americans back to work and I think the best thing the President can do right now is to work on that.

Posted by: lmsinca | August 23, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

What did we learn from this piece? That 'fetishizing' is a word. A bad one.

Posted by: Three3 | August 23, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"This led Obama and Dems to squander an early chance to define the GOP, at a moment of extreme weakness, as wholly invested in the nation's failure. It gave Republicans valuable time to regroup and to project good intentions. And it constrained the White House and Dems from rallying the public early on behind a more ambitious agenda than the one they eventually threw their weight behind."

This seems to ignore that Congressional Democrats and progressive pundits were promoting their majorities and an ambitious agenda seconds after election day. The Republican response of "no" was in reaction to that. To therefore paint the "no" so early would have also spotlighted the ambitious agenda they were proposing. After the inevitable failures and compromises of the legislative process the public would become nothing but either skeptical, hateful or disappointed. Such a strategy would have merely quickened the existing time line, not win control over the narrative.

Posted by: cprferry | August 23, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

OT, this is both hilarious and sad at the same time... Two Egyptian Coptic Christian men had flown to NYC to PROTEST the Cordoba Center... only to be heckled and kicked out of the protest... because they were speaking Arabic.

Read on:

At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.

"Go home," several shouted from the crowd.

"Get out," others shouted.

In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called "The Way." Both said they had come to protest the mosque.

"I'm a Christian," Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.

But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.

"I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here," a frustrated Nassralla said afterward.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/kelly/95748769_On_this_ground__zero_tolerance.html

Pretty much says it all, right?

Our country is full of idiots.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 23, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"This led Obama and Dems to squander an early chance to define the GOP, at a moment of extreme weakness, as wholly invested in the nation's failure. It gave Republicans valuable time to regroup and to project good intentions. And it constrained the White House and Dems from rallying the public early on behind a more ambitious agenda than the one they eventually threw their weight behind."

This seems to ignore that Congressional Democrats and progressive pundits were promoting their majorities and an ambitious agenda seconds after election day. The Republican response of "no" was in reaction to that. To therefore paint the "no" so early would have also spotlighted the ambitious agenda they were proposing. After the inevitable failures and compromises of the legislative process the public would become nothing but either skeptical, hateful or disappointed. Such a strategy would have merely quickened the existing time line, not win control over the narrative.

Posted by: cprferry | August 23, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Greg, agree in part that White House stuck too long with hope for bipartisanship, but wouldn't describe it as fetishizing. I see instead as invalid assumption that theelectoral result in several surprise swing states, e.g. Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina, where Obama did well with independents and attracted some Republican support, would be reflected in his interaction with Republican Senate caucus. Also that bipartisanship should be sought if he hoped to carry those states again in 2012. As it turns out that was a pipedream, both in Senate Republican response and in his odds in 2012. Its still very early - let's get the mid-terms over first (please, to follow Henny Youngman) - but I doubt he'll carry any of those three in 2012, and could also have trouble in Ohio and Florida. So as a political calculation it was wrong, but because of incorrect assumption in making connnection between electoral outcome and how he should govern, not 'fetishizing' bipartisanship for its own sake.

Posted by: BillB10 | August 23, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

All, check this out, a new volley in the war against Fox News:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/08/media_matters_to_run_ad_toutin.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 23, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

That you have to go to Comedy Central to get the truth these days is remarkable.

Posted by: LABC | August 23, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse
____________________________________

That you consider what you get out of Comedy Central to be "the truth" is remarkable.

Remarkably pathetic, that is. But sadly unsurprising.

Then again, you're sure not getting "truth" from Sargent either.

Posted by: etpietro | August 23, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm an ol' Leftie-

Why has he not had as many press conferences as W.? Why does the WH give hand-picked questions to "reporters" similar to what they did when O and Karzai had a "press conference"?

I don't vote for the GOP-ever, but, Jeebus...

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | August 23, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

SueKZoo1: "Universal coverage has been liberal dogma for eons. Hillary wacked at him about the mandate because without it, universal coverage is not achievable."

Universal coverage and the individual mandate are 2 COMPLETELY different things. Universal coverage was achieved in VT w/o an individual mandate, by increasing subsidies and access so everyone can afford it. This is what most liberals want and is what Obama campaigned for.

The individual mandate was a Heritage/Republican plan cooked up in the mid '90s and found adherence in moderate conservatives like Hillary and Romney. When Romney actually enacted it, it did nothing to control costs and has not led to a good sustainable plan for health care. If it ever goes into effect nationally, it will be even worse because there is no penalty for not paying the indiv. mandate penalty - therefore millions of young healthy people like me will still disregard the health insurance system. No liberal should be happy with the new plan we've got.

Posted by: michaelh81 | August 23, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Against my better judgement I'll respond to those who persist in claiming that Obama has been a wonderful president and that the the Left has been unrealistic and ungrateful.

George Bush nearly ruined the country and everybody knew it. Obama and the Democrats swept into office in a tidal wave. Less than 2 years later the Democrats stand to lose the House to a Republican Party that openly offers nothing other than that they aren't Democrats.

No doubt the Left will be blamed for whatever misery the Democrats endure in November. That will probably make some people feel good and it will likely push Obama and the Democrats even further Right. Which will, in turn, accelerate the decimation of Obama's presidency and the Democratic Party in Congress.

The fact is that policy positions of "the Left" are largely moderate and mainstream. The Democrats and Obama have allowed the Right to decide what constitutes acceptable policy views and Obama and the Democrats are suffering for their own failures.

Posted by: wbgonne | August 23, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Against my better judgement I'll respond to those who persist in claiming that Obama has been a wonderful president and that the the Left has been unrealistic and ungrateful.

George Bush nearly ruined the country and everybody knew it. Obama and the Democrats swept into office in a tidal wave. Less than 2 years later the Democrats stand to lose the House to a Republican Party that openly offers nothing other than that they aren't Democrats.

No doubt the Left will be blamed for whatever misery the Democrats endure in November. That will probably make some people feel good and it will likely push Obama and the Democrats even further Right. Which will, in turn, accelerate the decimation of Obama's presidency and the Democratic Party in Congress.

The fact is that policy positions of "the Left" are largely moderate and mainstream. The Democrats and Obama have allowed the Right to decide what constitutes acceptable policy views and Obama and the Democrats are suffering for their own failures.

Posted by: wbgonne | August 23, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"I'm a Christian," Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.

But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.

"I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here," a frustrated Nassralla said afterward.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/kelly/95748769_On_this_ground__zero_tolerance.html

Pretty much says it all, right?

Our country is full of idiots.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 23, 2010 1:41 PM

.............

Full of idiots, including the two idiots that were attacked. What is this country coming too, when two bigots can not express their bigotry openly, at a bigot's carnival, without being harassed by fellow bigots.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 23, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

One thing that would likely help Obama and the Dems in 2010 would be an absolute head-knocking TV and Tour and PUBLIC pushing of Senators/Representatives to Recognize that the Bush Tax Breaks and Wars represent the BULK of our deficit problem, and that THE NATION needs to pour $$$$$ into JOBS for INFRASTRUCTURE (sewers, water purification, bridges, windmills, roads) LIKE FDR's WPA and CCC programs. Folks along the Gulf Coast need to be put to living wage work!

Also it wouldn't hurt if he would stop wiggling around on the appointment of Elizabeth Warren (show SOME spunk (FOR THOSE OF US WHO PUT HIM IN OFFICE).

Also might cut down on leisure? Vacation Breaks?

Posted by: lufrank1 | August 23, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Moonbats are ill-tempered because they wildly miscalculated their own strength. They thought that sneaking their beloved little milquetoast messiah over the goal line would give them free license to "fundamentally transform" (translation: destroy) the America they so despise.

Imagine their disgust that ordinary Americans in their righteous might are fighting back. Freedom is on the march, and the sniveling, dainty-bummed little ersatz messiah is on the run.

According to Sargent, "we are not even one-fourth of the way through his tenure." LOL. This messiah's regime is so over it ain't funny. Thank God.

Posted by: thebump | August 23, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Obama and his top aides remain captive for too long to a Beltway culture of total corruption and total greed - a pawn of corporations and defense contractors.

He is the 21st version of the Pied Piper.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin is the subject of a legend concerning the departure or death of a great many children from the town of Hamelin (Hameln), Germany, in the Middle Ages. The earliest references describe a piper, dressed in pied (multicolored) clothing, leading the children away from the town never to return. In the 16th century the story was expanded into a full narrative, in which the piper is a rat-catcher hired by the town to lure rats away with his magic pipe. When the citizenry refuses to "pay the piper" for this service, he retaliates by turning his magic on their children, leading them away as he had the rats. This version of the story spread as a fairy tale. This version has also appeared in the writings of, among others, Johann Goethe, the Brothers Grimm, and Robert Browning.
The story may reflect a historical event in which Hamelin lost its children. Theories have been proposed suggesting that the Pied Piper is a symbol of the children's death by plague or catastrophe. Other theories describe him as a serial killer, or liken him to figures like Nicholas of Cologne, who lured away a great number of children on a disastrous Children's Crusade. Most plausibly, a recent theory ties the departure of Hamelin's children to the Ostsiedlung, in which a number of Germans left their homes to colonize Eastern Europe.

Posted by: alance | August 23, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Bi-partisanship is pointless when the other half is democrat.

The compromise between good and evil simply sullies good while incrementally advancing evil.

Oppose the democrat's antAmerican ideology....that is a good thing.

The lily white socialist democrat...aka: the left, has had its agenda shown to America, which rejects it in polls and will gut it in November.

Posted by: georgedixon1 | August 23, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan: "OT, this is both hilarious and sad at the same time... Two Egyptian Coptic Christian men had flown to NYC to PROTEST the Cordoba Center... only to be heckled and kicked out of the protest... because they were speaking Arabic."

And because they *looked* Islamic. Once you start turning on your fellow protesters because *you think* they look like the people you're protesting against, even though they are as wild-eyed and irrational about whatever you're protesting as you are, there is something wrong with the "movement". You need to check yourself. "Maybe you agree with me, but you look too swarthy! Down with swarthiness!"

Hopefully, that's a sign that those folks are going to self-destruct shortly. But I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 23, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

This article makes one very good point I have to agree with, except for the choice of word, 'fetishize'.

I do believe President Obama waited too long for Republican cooperation, but calling it a 'fetish' is inappropriate overstatement.

But the real cause of the Left's disappointment is that the Left is so thoroughly divorced from reality. Just as the Republicans care nothing for reality, they care only for their return to power, so the "professional Left" cares nothing for reality, caring only for their pet peeves.

A perfect example of this was the SSM advocates whining about President Obama not supporting them as if their ridiculous pet project was anywhere near as important as what President Obama has already accomplished.

Posted by: Syllogizer | August 23, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

The Lunatic Left Whines that Obama has not accomplished much.

The Rabid Right howls because Obama has accomplished so much, in such a short time, that he has changed America for ever.


Obama; All Things To All Whining Wingtip Morons.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 23, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Moonbat: "the Bush Tax Breaks and Wars represent the BULK of our deficit problem"

Rubbish. Deficits declined under the Republican Congress, even with Iraq and the tax cuts, and then exploded as soon as Dimwitcrats took over control of spending:

http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/08/iraq_the_war_that_broke_us_not.html

Posted by: thebump | August 23, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Too bad. They wanted him, now they got him. Rock on!

Posted by: jemvbcnyc | August 23, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

That you consider what you get out of Comedy Central to be "the truth" is remarkable.

Remarkably pathetic, that is. But sadly unsurprising.

Then again, you're sure not getting "truth" from Sargent either.

Posted by: etpietro
******************************

Coming from someone who probably sits thisclose to the TV to digest whatever phlegm is coming out of propaganda machine that is Faux News, I consider it rich and telling that you feel the need to project your stupidity on me.

The Daily Show and the Colbert Report shine a light on the increasingly useless media. That they are remarkably funny and accurate is just icing on the cake.

But what am I saying, wingnuts have no sense of humor anyway... now hurry, Glenlivet Beck might be on and you don't want to miss the reebo chalkboard...

Posted by: LABC | August 23, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

dknight12345-

Stop spreading Republicunning propaganda. He DID have Republican support and input for many of the ideas in healthcare. Why, many of the ideas even CAME from Republicans. But that arch-traitor Rep. McConnell and his braindead assistant in the House, Rep. Boehner have been digging their toes in and saying "N-O-O-O!" to everything the President tries to do for the country.

Worse yet, they got their fellow lapdog Republicans to follow them like sheep.

What we really need now if for their constituents to wake up and notice how the Republicunning have betrayed us all.

Posted by: Syllogizer | August 23, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like "The Left" believes "The Right's" propaganda, that Obama is a Leftie? He's not, he never was. He's a Community Organizer who grew up straddling multiple worlds and is a careful mediator.

Was he wrong to expect Republicans (especially the 20%-ers whose heads exploded when a black man was elected POTUS) to do anything but say NO and hope he (and America) failed. Propbaly. There is evil in the world and it's name is Republican.

How can their propaganda be true if "The Left" isn't support the "most radical left-wing President of all time.

Let's just hope "The Left" learned fom the Nader fiasco. There are worse things that lack of "leftist" ideological purity .... Republican rule.

Posted by: thebobbob | August 23, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why Dem's are getting all weak in the knees. The only one consistently showing spine is the president. My Goodness...look at what weve done in two years!! It's incredible. We have nothing to shy away from. REMEMBER WHAT WE INHERITED!! Stop sniveling and whining and start standing up for what got us here. We don't have to apologize for anything.

Posted by: CenterLeft | August 23, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Why is left so disappointed in Obama?
-------------------------------------------

I'd have to go with, we didn't get our ponies yet, or the ponies we got were smaller than we thought they were going to be -- a lot of this stuff turns out to be a lot harder than it sounded to some of us, even for someone we assumed had magical powers -- or that quite frankly, some of us seem a lot more comfortable being victims than victors. Or all of the above.

Posted by: CalD | August 23, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

No secret here folks-Obama Lied. He has broken several campaign promises he made to the Left. Including: Getting us out of Afghanistan, heralding campaign finance reform, and providing more aggresive oversight of big money Financers (putting a few of the most blatant crooks in jail certainly would not have hurt), and distancing the government from supporting the most harmful of the environmental malfactors.
In short Obama has seemed timid with his enemies and duplicitus with his friends and this has led his enemies to become more aggressive and his friends to doubt him. Next Question.

Posted by: oregonbirddog | August 23, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

@ mikefromArlington | August 23, 2010 12:42 PM:

Abso-frickin-lutely! Really excellent point.

It's the classic Golden Hammer anti-pattern: When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem starts looking suspiciously like a nail.

Posted by: CalD | August 23, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I get my "news" from Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." Democrats or Republicans...doesn't much matter: they're all selling this country down the river, including Obama. Sadly, we don't have a single politician or "leader" who will tell us the truth on much of anything where "national security" is supposedly concerned. I had high hopes for Obama, but in ways (surveillance, assassination of American citizens without any legal process, etc) he's been worse than Bush...who would have thought that possible. Some specific areas:

- Why is the Defense Dept. budget apparently immune from cuts...Gates expects an increase in the next fiscal year. We're already spending more on defense than the rest of the world combined (or close to it). We have significant domestic problems: a huge budget deficit; huge shortages in state/local government budgets; schools failing; road/bridge infrastructure crumbling; etc etc etc. Yet why do we foot the bill for the defense of...well, everyone and anyone we could conceivably try to call an "ally." Obviously, they can play us for suckers who will save them billions. But if they're not concerned enough about their own defense to pay fully for it, why should we foot the bill, to our detriment?

- Why do we need more and more (33 new ones at last count) new "secret intelligence complexes" (from the POST's "Top Secret America" series)? The number of fanatics/radicals that might be a threat to us number in the low thousands, by the latest guesses. Yet, we'll spend any sum...hundreds of billions a year...to try to prevent the unpreventable. What happens when there is another terrorist attack? We're going to establish another 33 new secret intelligence complexes...spend even more hundreds of billions?

Why is there no discussion by our "leaders" of the fact that: No one in history has ever stopped all terrorist acts...and we won't either, even though we pretend we should be able to stop them all (and even stop every attempt before it starts). There have been fanatics using "terrorist" acts for 2,000 years at least and will be for another 2,000 most likely: and that includes Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Tamils, and a long list of others. The concept of "winning" the "war on terror" is the most inane, airheaded, meaningless "soundbite" perpetrated on the American public in some time. I'd like to see any of our so-called "leaders" define what "winning" means.

- We read almost daily about severe corruption in Afghanistan...with American dollars leaving the country by the "bale" full, but nothing apparently being done about it. We continue to waste billions in Afghanistan for no discernable reason. The assumption is: we leave Afghanistan...automatically another 11 Sep happens. Is that rational...very doubtful, but where is any discussion of that?

Posted by: Rigged | August 23, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

What about adhering to promises? Does this matter at all? Come on media - do your job.

Remember any of these:
1. I'll limit earmarks - the first bill he signed was loaded with earmarks.
2. Gitmo will close in a year - really?
3. A new era of bipartisianship - not even close.
4. Stimulus will hold unemployment at 8% - not even close
5. It will be a new Washington - check out all the backroom deals on the health care bill.
6. I'll negotiate with Iran and others - no preconditions - how has this worked out?
7. Most transparent administration ever - The President doesn't even hold press conferences any more. How is that from open government!

Come on media - start doing your job and hold the President accountable!

===================

1. The first bill he signed was a carryover from the previous presidecy that was signed for expediency.

2. Gitmo would have been closed if he had the support of Congress and the American people. He offered to move the prison to Chicago which was quickly blocked by the Congress.

3. Bipartisanship is thesis of this article.

4. He nor anyone in his administration ever said that the stimulus would hold unemployment at 8%. The 8% was a projection. Yes it missed the mark but a projection is not a guarantee.

5. It is a new Washington. What back room deals? You sound like a Republican with talking points.

6. What's your point? He openly stated while campaigning that he was open to talks. Whether they work on not is still in the open. I guess you prefer the "you are with us or against us" approach.

7. What would you learn at a press conference that can not learn from whitehouse.gov? Press conferences are for the media, often they do not ask the questions that upper most on the minds of the people that tune in anyway.

All toll you brought forth a bunch of talking points that you either picked up on another site or you think make you sound informed. What it does in my opinion is make you sound irrational.

Posted by: justonevoice | August 23, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Greg, sorry but today it's nope and nope.

You wrote:

"This is certainly something that many on the left think, but Harris is missing a core ingredient of the left's critique, at least as I understand it. In particular, what many object to is that Obama and his top aides remained captive for too long to a Beltway culture that fetishizes bipartisanship"

It's not about bi-partisanship, it's about leadership. The Obama style is collegial in nature because that is all he has ever known. His administration is filled with the same type of people, advisors like Geithner, professors like Chu, organizational guys like Gates, coat-tail riders like Clinton, insiders like Emmanuel, political hacks like Gibbs. There is not one person who has ever led a large organization, or held an executive politcal postion like governor in an important post. (Vilsack is in a very unimportant post) You think it doesn't matter but it does. The boss sets the tone, and creates consequences. Even the execrable Reid and Pelosi are better executives than the President.

Secondly you wrote:

"To be clear, I tend to think this critique is overstated: Obama has passed the most ambitious domestic agenda since FDR, and there are some grounds for believing that the White House got as much as it possibly could have"

You must have never heard of LBJ. While the man was a perfectly loathesome human being his domestic agenda completely dwarfs the Obama administration by a mile. Too much to write here, but please look it up. He did it because he loved power and loved to use power. Obama has never learned that power isn't a bad thing, when you're the boss it's a GREAT thing. If he enjoyed power more, he would be the President I voted for.

Posted by: 54465446 | August 23, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Campaign promises are like Party Platforms. They are not Divine Writ, although most Wing Nuts appear to treat them as if they were etched on slabs of stone.

When you are handed the worst economic collapse in eighty years, which happened after most of the other goals had been outlined, you have to change your priorities, on which things to spend your honeymoon capitol on; trying to apply a tourniquet, to staunch the massive economic bleed out, or sticking to the less urgent campaign goals, outlined before the Great Recession hit.

Do Wing Nuts Always Remain Frozen In the Petulant Instant Gratification Stage Of Childhood? It would appear that they must.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 23, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Or perhaps "the Left" has a mouse in it's pocket.

Posted by: CalD | August 23, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"remained captive for too long to a Beltway culture that fetishizes bipartisanship"

In a country that is based on equal participation there is no alternative for a small "d" democrat but to give democracy a chance. Unfortunately, the enemies of democracy with a minority have been able to dictate government, so far.

Posted by: kengelhart | August 23, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I meant: ~its~ pocket.

Posted by: CalD | August 23, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"Stop spreading Republicunning propaganda. He DID have Republican support and input for many of the ideas in healthcare. Why, many of the ideas even CAME from Republicans.
Posted by: Syllogizer"

Not true. Not one amendment proposed by a Republican passed. And in the much lauded "bipartisan" Senate Finance committee mark-ups, the only Republican amendment to pass was one co-sponsored by a Democrat.

There was no attempt to include Republican proposals. There were, of course, concessions made and conservative ideas wrapped in progressive language that were proposed to elicit Blue Dog Democrat support. The Democrats aimed for 60 and nothing more.

That's been their plan all along. Before the Republicans even said "no", Democrats were out promoting an ambitious agenda and their majority. When one party seemingly comes out to say "we're going to do this, and you can't stop us", the other party is going to block their path. To say that the Republicans are at fault for the partisanship is to ignore reality. Pelosi threatened it. However, as we found out, she never had it to begin with and had to spend time actually courting moderates to maintain her threatened majority. Meanwhile Reid proved incompetent to negotiate around that threat.

Posted by: cprferry | August 23, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Your thoery is based on the premise that, as president, Mr. Obama was calling the shots. Clearly he was not.
On his first major policy initiative, health care reform, he ceded control to Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid. They wrote the legislation, and shoved it through Congress.
There was initial bi-partisanship in the House committees marking up the House bill. Then Speaker Pelosi stripped all of the GOP amendments without one word of consultation.
Over in the Senate, Leader Reid did the same thing by rewriting the Finance Committee bill to his own liking.
Republicans took one look at what was going on, and backed away from the table. If democrats couldn't trust their own leadership, then republicans certainly weren't going to lured into the same trap.
Mr. Obama's biggest failing, in my opinion, has been his giving up control of the policy agenda to the more radical Pelosi and Reid.
They have veered left, and are taking Mr. Obama along for quite the ride.

Posted by: mtpeaks | August 23, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

... And when Pelosi and Reid failed on their threat, they cried foul. "Don't blame us, blame the Republicans" for allowing these darn freely-elected moderate Democrats to have a say in their own political party's agenda.

Posted by: cprferry | August 23, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Why is Mr. Sargent linking President Obama to fetishes?
Even right wingers have't done that.
That's hitting below the belt even inside the Beltway.
What the President and First Lady do is their business - especially on vacation..

Posted by: jfv123 | August 23, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm spose to be happy with a President who chose at the last minute to forestall a vacation to East Asia to pass healthcare legislation, legislation that he chose not to be an active participant in? The way I see it, if this President gets elected for a second term, he will be a lame duck for the last two years of his last term. As far as I'm concerned, he's been lame in these first two years of his first administration. That adds up to 4 out of 8 years wasted at a time when the American people are faced with incredible problems and misery, areas of expertise for past Democrats. Since Obama has spent whatever capital that he has on being re-elected, I say vote him out. It'll teach him and future Democrats who want to play politics with American lives a lesson, one that should have been learned by this very President in being voted into office. It should also free him up for more vacations.

Posted by: mcdermottmike1 | August 23, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

If I have all of my critical reading skills honed to perfection, this dude is all over the place. His central thesis seems to be that the Democrats and President Obama "fetishized bipartisanship". What does that even mean?

I disagree with the writer of this superficial piece. How can the legislation passed by this Congress and President Obama even remotely compare to the Great Society? What an insane statement. Medicare and the Civil Rights Act are lesser than the mess this administration has given us?

The Healthcare fiasco, which is simply a trillion dollar gift to the health care insurance industry, doesn't even have the public option Candidate Obama promised us. It's a mess.

Financial reform is nothing more than a possible slap on the wrist to big business which almost ruined not only our economy, but the economy of the rest of the world.

Glass/Steagall has not been re-enacted. Americans still have the worst health care in the industrialized world at the the highest cost for taxpayers and consumers. And they will have this dreadful state of health care until President Obama's plan is thrown into the circular file. This plan was written in Max Baucus's office by a representative of the insurance industry!

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are on going. The money still goes to the people who own all three branches of the Federal Government: the extraordinarily wealthy and the corporations.

Nothing is being done about the theft of our democracy by the corporations and the incredible corruption of a representative body that rubs our face in its corruption asks what we're going to do about it.

There is an unrelenting war against teachers, teachers' unions and public schools.

What is there for the left to like about this administration?


Posted by: flamingliberal | August 23, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Good points Greg.

If the Republicans pick up seats during the mid-terms the Dems will likely get them back in 2012. The Republicans are not good at governing, and/or making long range decisions for the best interest of our country. The Republicans are riding a wave right now because they aren't afraid to get out there and use the megaphone to spout their lies and rhetoric. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If they take over the house or the senate, the public will expect some results from them. If they don't deliver then the populist wave their riding will peter out, and they'll have nothing to show for it come the next election cycle.

Posted by: burlydave | August 23, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

The left will always be disappointed by its leaders... who must spin and lie and act unprincipled to win elections.

Why ? because America is a center-right nation... twice as many conservatives as liberals.

As least half of supposed Liberals must run as centrists to get elected. They have to fake being pro-gun or pro-life or pro-business.

Recall the pro-business, pro-balanced budget pro-transparency candidate Obama ? He of course vanished after being elected.

Recall even the favored Justice Sotomayer and Attorney-General spinning during their confirmations as moderate centrists.

Liberals eventually get caught up in lies and spinning and their own voters both disgusted conservatives and disappointed liberals eventually abandon them.

Posted by: Petras123 | August 23, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

All fair enough, Greg. But why do you think that this sort of weak kneed moderate is not who Obama really is? Maybe this is exactly who he is. It certainly seems like the way he campaigned.

Regards,

Tengrain

Posted by: Tengrain | August 23, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Suppose the left were to say to the right, "You agree to the public option and we will stop killing babies. And note that we are using your language when we refer to foetuses as babies. Will you agree to that deal?"

Would the right agree? We do not know. Would the left sacrifice its right to kill foetuses? I do not know.

Posted by: rohit57 | August 23, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

When a pro-choice woman is pregnant and is planning to go ahead with it, what word does she use to refer to the life within her womb?

Answer: Baby.

Posted by: rohit57 | August 23, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I agree entirely with Greg. This is just the first quarter of what is likely to be a long four quarter game and I suspect that the Obama administration will look very different than it does now and will be a lot sharper as it responds to an opposition party that's clearly lost its mind. Joe Scarborough is only the most recent defector, like me, to say so.

Posted by: TedFrier | August 23, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I am a life long Democratic party member and African American who DID NOT vote for Obama. That said, my TOTAL disenchantment is with the Democratic party in which I once believed whole heartedly. My commitment to the Democratic party has always entailed my commitment to the Democratic administration.

In these 20 months I have seen the left maligning PBHO as much as the party of no. It is my hope that African Americans begin withholding their vote from the democratic do nothing party. Judging from the actions of the left these past months, it is what the party deserves.

Tempus fugit

Posted by: neec13 | August 23, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

The left is disappointed because they are not dictating how the country is ran. They are disappinted because the weath earned by others has not been redistributed. They are disappointed because Obama and his Congress were unable to do anything to healthcare only screw up heatlhcare insurance (nothing was done to lower the cost of healthcare). They were promised that they would get a EuroSocialist system in rapid time with the help of a Democratic Congress. If I were them I would be disappointe too. But they need not fear, when he gets his second term (he will convince them to vote for him and promise that he will do what they want) they will be even more disappointed. He is an Ivy League socialist which means it will only work the way he envisions it and of course with him in charge. He just has to get that pesky reality thing out of the way, you know the one that history has proven and continues to prove that socialism doesn't work.

Posted by: staterighter | August 23, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

"The Lunatic Left Whines that Obama has not accomplished much. The Rabid Right howls because Obama has accomplished so much, in such a short time, that he has changed America for ever."

And the fact that this false equivalency has taken root demonstrates the problem: the Right has defined the parameters of the national debate. Anything to the Left of Adam Smith is Communism. And if you think that's a good thing for Obama you should take another look at Obama's approval rating with Independents.

Furthermore, if, as you suggest, "the Left" is so extreme and marginalized then the Left's lack of enthusiasm should be electorally inconsequential for the Democrats. Yet Establishment Democrats blame the Left for electoral failure while simultaneously arguing that the Left is isolated and ineffectual. You can't have it both ways: either the Left matters or it doesn't.

More importantly, what passes for Liberal views today are mainstream, largely popular positions like health care reform with a limited public plan. The fact that this position -- extreme only in its moderation and popularity -- was demonized as Far Left and Radical shows political failure of the worst sort. Most important of all, the Left's reasonable and popular positions are also the only real answers to today's problems. No one else is even offering legitimate solutions.

The Democrats are sinking politically against an incoherent party that has just been repudiated after 8 years of colossal failure. Apparently, it makes Establishment Democrats feel better to blame Liberals for their failure. That, as is plain to all, will only exacerbate the Democrats' political problems. Far worse, the GOP will reclaim power and there will be no solutions to our nation's problems.

But at least everyone will know that the Left is to blame.

Posted by: wbgonne | August 23, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I am a black small business owner and federal contractor. I was a huge Obama supporter. Today...the man makes me physically sick to my stomach.

He has compete disdain for the black community and all small businesses. I feel completely used…not only by this liar, but by all the Democrats that allowed him to perpetrate this fraud on America. It will be years before I vote for ANY Democrat again.

Posted by: question-guy | August 23, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Both of you are wrong. Health care, social justice, government takeover, higher taxes, higher deficit, and a higher debt are only the tip of the disappoint in Obama. The left wants Obama to have complete and total power. No House, no Senate, no Republican party, no Democrat party, just Obama Czars. Want more? No debates, no procedures, no Constitution, no freedom of speech, no rights, no choices, and no Bill of Rights. Want more? No profits for businesses or banks. No private savings account. Want more? Plain clothes thugs watching everything we do and say and arrest anyone who disagrees with Obama. Everything we say must be monitored, everything we eat must have approval from Michelle and all wealth must be spread around. You thought you knew the left. You don't know jack.

Posted by: houstonian | August 23, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

"Do Wing Nuts Always Remain Frozen In the Petulant Instant Gratification Stage Of Childhood? It would appear that they must."

This is what passes for political analysis by Establishment Democrats. How's that working out for ya?

Posted by: wbgonne | August 23, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Obama blew it. he had a chance to be a new FDR. Instead HE, not his advisors, chose to be a cross between Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter. He'll be remembered for his record of impotent, timid half-measures when bold, decisive leadership was needed.

His nauseating, pointless appeasing of a GOP that clearly had no intention of working with him, they repeatedly, publicly SAID so, gives lie to the belief that he is some political genius. He's not. He's just the guy who was lucky enough to run against the abysmal record of failure of the Bush administration.

But he'll keep licking the GOP's boots for that elusive, never to be bipartisanship that he thinks will make him go down in history as some great tranformational figure. What a dissapointment.

Posted by: toc59 | August 23, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

BTW: Mitch McConnell must be laughing his a*s off at the "Professionals" running the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party by turning on the Left.

Posted by: wbgonne | August 23, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

It was always clear, even during the campaign, how slavishly Obama would hew to the 50 yard line, no matter where the endzones were.

Realizing this, the Republicans moved their goalpost into the overflow parking lot. And the White House, thinking itself ever so clever, followed.

Posted by: Itzajob | August 23, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

"It was always clear, even during the campaign, how slavishly Obama would hew to the 50 yard line, no matter where the endzones were.

Realizing this, the Republicans moved their goalpost into the overflow parking lot. And the White House, thinking itself ever so clever, followed."

Well said.

Posted by: wbgonne | August 23, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

President Obama has indeed delivered on many of the promises he made during the campaign and for that I applaud him. That he did so in the face of overwhelming Republican opposition makes the accomplishments all the more remarkable.

Where my disappointment comes from is his failure to undo the evil ways of the previous administration e.g. domestic surveillance continues, Guantanamo Bay is still open, there were no efforts to investigate the use of torture nor of those who advocated its use and there are other examples.

Not specifically a Bush leftover but still an ongoing practice is Don't ask, don't tell. More recently we have had to try and digest some of the most bizarre pseudo-scientific babble ever from the head of NOAA concerning the whereabouts of millions of gallons of oil.

More troubling however is the failure to put forth a clear route to reduce unemployment. The stimulus was "then" this is now and there seems to be precious little movement. I don't need extended unemployment benefits as much as I need to find an employer who is willing to pay a reasonable days pay for my services. The apparent inactivity toward this end will overshadow all else and time is almost out to start any program which will help in November.

Posted by: mikemfr | August 23, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

The left is disappointed by Obama because they have no core beliefs he can rally around so any decision he makes is bound to disappoint someone.

The unions want things built in the US and to hell with the environment.
The environmentalists want nothing made in the US unless it biodegrades and to hell with jobs.
If he supports the NYC mosque he makes the freedom of speech people happy but angers the antireligious crowd.

The examples go on and on.
He can’t make a decision without offending someone in his core group. I love when the left blames the GOP for all their woes because it keeps the left from focusing on the real issues. They call the GOP obstructionists and in the last 18 months the GOP has been out of play as the democrates have ruled the roost of the legislative and executive branches. If the left could get together and agree among themselves, well that would be something. The problem is that to most of us in the center, all of the left wing voters justifications of why Obama is doing so poorly in the polls, blaming it on poor communication, blaming the GOP, or calling those who don’t agree dumb, simple minded or racist, just don’t matter and won’t change the center or independant vote. The comical display to protect a failed president with failed policies only convinces us more to vote the other way. So now it is time for all those on the left to call me dumb or racist even though I'm not because that is the only argument they have. I guess we’ll see in November.

Posted by: rlc63 | August 23, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Here's something to think about while we entrench ourselves in the dogma of the "apparent".

1. I've heard and read ad nauseum that Obama was too naive to expect the republicans to be bipartisan. But anybody that knows a little Chicago political history, knows that it is impossible for Obama to think such a thing because of the late Harold Washington and his "Council Wars" And it's interesting that no one in the MSM, and even many blogs, will not disclose this history to the public.

2.Obama is a (non ideological) constitutional scholar, and is attempting to operate, as president, at the highest order of the constitution's stated, and (unstated goals) Unfortunately, we, have cultivated a cultural- "either/or"- reality, which does not corresponds to the actual universe that we live in, which very existence is systemically paradoxical. (Try hooking up a car battery using "one pole" and see what you get!) Can anyone recall a president ever before evoking e pluribus unum?--more than once?! The problem is that we are still thinking as if the truth of things lie in their "opposites", when opposites are illusions.

E pluribus unum operates on two levels. One is relevant to the relationship between the federal government and the states-the union. (But unstated!) "out of many, One" is relevant to self governance; which means that "we the people" can only impose our will on congress (which has sole authority to make law) to the extent that we are not divided! The president does not have the authority to make law. But he can (propose law) wield political power, and has the authority to execute the duties of his office.

When we start to see the likes of the Tea Party negotiating with the NAACP on policy, the orligarchs will start to worry; but not until then!

Posted by: D-0f-G | August 23, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

First, this whole story is overblown. Bases tend to get feisty during the course of a President's term, but they are often mollified when contrasts are more sharply drawn with the opposition party in an election season. I surmise that most of this issue is getting play because people are wondering how the left's "disillusionment" with Obama will impact the midterms. Yet, if the left, which is supposedly so preoccupied and frustrated with Obama's "fetishism of bipartisanship," fails to turn out for the midterms to oppose a party that seeks to shift the country even further away from, or even roll back, their progressivism, it will say more about the left than it will about their feelings about Obama. At some point, the left should understand that, regardless of how good or bad they feel about the President, their fight was never going to be settled in one or two Presidential terms; it's an ongoing battle.

Having said, I think this whole notion that left is frustrated with Obama's "fetishism of bipartisanship," if true, is further evidence that some (many?) on the left did not actually pay full attention to Obama's campaign; they only heard what they wanted to hear. It also exposes a hypocrisy of the left.

Obama did not campaign as someone who would steamroll the opposition; he campaigned as someone who would work to reduce the discord in our politics and unite opposing viewpoints. Thus, faulting him for working to keep that campaign promise while simultaneously skewering him for "failing" to keep his campaign promises is hypocritical. Is he supposed to work to keep some promises, but not others (e.g., Afghanistan)?

Additionally, I think the left is misinformed about the nature of the compromises that Obama has made. They have been framed as an effort to "bring Republicans on board." But, in reality, the compromises have been necessary to keep DEMOCRATS from jumping ship. The public option is a prime example. There were Democrats who were publicly stating that they would not support a bill that included a public option. So, saying that Obama "compromised away the public option for a few Republican votes" is disingenuous. The need to keep conservative Democrats on board has been observed with nearly all, if not all, major legislation -- from the Recovery Act to financial regulation -- that's been passed, and this need has even been observed in other efforts, like the so-far-failed comprehensive energy bill; compromises were necessary to just keep coal and oil state Dems at the table.

Ultimately, any analysis of the "left's disappointment with Obama" that excludes any concomitant real examination/introspection of the left itself will necessarily fall short of comprehending this matter. There's something tragically ironic about progressives being disillusioned with the most progressive administration in the modern era. Perhaps, progressives -- so used to failure -- cannot accept success? Is disillusionment pathological?

Posted by: associate20 | August 23, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse


This blog is rich. The poor liberals are dismayed because Obama hasn't been far-left enough, but you still hold a glimmer of hope he'll come around.

As an Independent, who reads everything I can on what's ACTUALLY going on in Obama's Administration, I think he has went too far left and am glad that a majority of Americans from all political affiliations, are finally realizing this fact.

Posted by: janet8 | August 23, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

President Obama laid the foundation for his trouble with the Democratic Party left during the campaign, without understanding he was doing it.

The modern national Democratic Party has always been dominated by organized interest groups with very specific policy agendas: trial lawyers, feminists, unions, supporters of Israel and so forth. The hierarchy of influence among these groups changes over time -- industrial unions are less influential than they used to be, and Wall Street much more -- but what they have in common is the expectation that a Democratic President will be "their" President. He will embrace 100% of their policy agenda, or be considered a disappointment or worse.

Obama's career has always been more about Obama than it has been about loyalty to organized interests, which reduces the enthusiasm of some of "the groups" for him. More important, though, is that Obama being about Obama has limited his appeal to Democrats and independents who voted for him in 2008 mainly because they disliked George W. Bush. There are many such people, and most of the time they don't have great influence within the Democratic Party. They don't give huge amounts of money or supply large numbers of campaign volunteers; they just vote. Or don't, if they think a candidate they've supported isn't thinking the way they are.

I don't think Obama has every really absorbed the truth that he didn't get elected because he was change, or because the Obama personal life story was so compelling. He got elected because a large majority of Americans wanted to get as far as they could from Obama's comprehensively incompetent predecessor. Identifying the ills of the country with George W. Bush, as Roosevelt identified the Depression with Herbert Hoover, was what Obama needed to do during the 2008 campaign and in the first months of his administration. Instead, he let Bush fade out of sight and out of mind.

Obama also underestimated the severity of the recession, again starting back during the campaign. He had a lot of company -- but a lot of that company included people trying to sound optimistic about the economy for fear of making it worse. By joining them, Obama left himself exposed to blame with the recession turned out to be worse than predicted.

Health care is a detail, politically speaking. Financial reform is a detail. So is Afghanistan. Obama's real problem is that he's stuck trying to be optimistic about a recession that Americans know is worse than their government is telling them, while having missed his opportunity to hang that recession around Bush and the Republicans. 2012 will be different, but for 2010 that's an awfully deep hole for Democrats to climb out of.

Posted by: jbritt3 | August 23, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

associate20:

Obama has hewed to the Center and he has lost the Independents. What does that tell you?

Posted by: wbgonne | August 23, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Unlike the right who watch Fox propaganda network, listen to Rush, Sean, Laura, Laura2, Bill, buy gold from the crazy man who's name I can never remember, watch the babes with short skirts who have prattled on for years without saying anything, who have written volumes of books they had no hand in writing.
The left are happy with Obamba, but we want him to be more.

Posted by: JillCalifornia | August 23, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Why is left so disappointed in Obama? ..... Cuz, he hasn't completely destroyed the democratic party , yet.

Posted by: richard36 | August 23, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Perception in politics is more powerful than reality --see blue smoke and mirrors. There's now a perception on both left and right that Obama fits either the snobbish cynical description given of Oakland by Gertrude Stein (there's no there there) in that some see it difficult to see what he stands for let alone fights for or that he has searched for the Holy Grail of bipartisanship and found that it can not be obtained rather than toughening up, leading his party and not following the path to the bottom best described by Leo Durocher as nice guys finish last --- or arguably don't even get to start. Reality politics should look at the whole picture and find that we must not let the perfect drive out the good. It takes a long time to get to the Promised Land.

Posted by: ejgallagher1 | August 23, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama's "core philosophy" is simple - help the rich get richer on the backs of the middle and working classes.

Health care and financial "reform" do exactly that, while being gussied up in consumer window dressing but not doing one thing to address the true issue.

Just look at Obama's deficit reduction commission which will destroy the middle and working classes as we know them. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will all be transformed into welfare for the rich.

Why aren't you addressing THAT on a daily basis?

I would guess that the majority of democratic voters don't even have a clue that Obama is cutting backroom deals so they will never be able to retire because bankers will be greedily helping themselves to all that money that has been taken out of their paychecks over the years, courtesy of Obama.

Posted by: solsticebelle | August 23, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

It is not going to be decided by either you closet communist or the lunatic tea sackers. it is going to be decided by us independents and guess what start looking for new jobs because you are soon to join the rest of us on the unemployed line.

Posted by: PennyWisetheClown | August 23, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

FLAMINGLIBERAL wrote:

"Glass/Steagall has not been re-enacted. Americans still have the worst health care in the industrialized world at the the highest cost for taxpayers and consumers. And they will have this dreadful state of health care until President Obama's plan is thrown into the circular file. This plan was written in Max Baucus's office by a representative of the insurance industry!"

Glass/Stegall cannot be re-enacted as you say. The fiancial reform act may have not gone far enough for you, but if you were hoping to redo Glass, then you don't know anything about the banking business today.

Also, by what measure is our healthcare bad? We could argue all night about costs, most of which are NOT born by the consumer, but as to the quality of care, you are extremely mistaken.

Posted by: 54465446 | August 23, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm not disappointed in him at all. He's done some great things, in spite of total, obstinate Republican obstructionism.

He is governing exactly as he said he would during the campaign. Why is anyone surprised?

I'm not apathetic, and I will be at the polls in November to vote for Democrats.

Posted by: Pamsm | August 23, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm... me thinks the professional left doth complain too much.
They're trying to paint Mr. Obama as right of progressive--not true--and rally their ranks--not likely.
LOL, professional left. You have earned the message voters are preparing to send you in November.

Posted by: mtpeaks | August 23, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs to fire all his advisors....specifically Emmanuel, Geithner, and Summmers. They are the reason he cannot govern effectively. Obama needs to realize that after 2 years of nothing from the Republicans but "no" that he can use that against them. Obama needs to stop trying to find any basis for bipartisanship and just tell the nation that the Republicans are just what they appear to be....a slimy bunch of oligarchs supporting a corporate takeover of government, leading to a corporate facist rule of this country and unending war to support the military industrial complex.

Posted by: Chagasman | August 23, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Obama has screwed our country and the whiny left still blames Bush.

Typical weak diatribe from those who want others to pay for everything.

Posted by: r_leever | August 23, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse


"How can the GOP possibly win? President Obama has a 68% job approval rating."

- Dazed Confused Dim

Posted by: screwjob21 | August 23, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

This is why I - a registered Independent who donated to, and voted for, Barack in 2008 - am leaving the President

We continue toe have indefinite detention, military commissions, Blackwater assassination squads, escalation in Afghanistan, extreme secrecy to shield executive lawbreaking from judicial review, renditions, torture, and denials of habeas corpus. These are not policies Obama has failed yet to uproot; they are policies he has explicitly advocated and affirmatively embraced as his own.

In addition, Obama's actions are deeply at odds with the public image he cultivated during his campaign — idealist, civil libertarian, constitutional law professor (a sick joke), someone who rose above politics.

You can claim that the president is a "pragmatist," and always has been, but Obama draped himself in idealism and principle during the campaign. The left always complained that Bush let politics drive his policy decisions. But in this instance, couldn't Obama be accused of the same thing?”

Sadly, he has already lost mo vote, and he will lose many more if he doesn't really CHANGE.
./

Posted by: swanieaz | August 23, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm disappointed because Cheney and 43 along with other right-wing saboteurs weren't arrested and tried for war crimes.

Posted by: BigTrees | August 23, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm not upset with Obama one bit.

I have a computer with internet, I have a cell phone, I have a car and buy gasoline, I have a job, I have a house and pay my mortgage, I went to college and pay my student loans, I have health insurance, I have several retirement plans, and I'm happily married to a woman that is going to college to earn a doctorate in physical therapy, and I can fly anywhere in the US to see my family and friends. Life is good.

There's 2 kinds of people in the world: doers and talkers.

Obama is a doer, the rest of you are just talkers. The man is getting things done, and whether you "talkers" like it/or not, he is staving off some pretty ugly stuff because he loves this country.

Posted by: burlydave | August 23, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

When you read comments like the ones from Big Trees it is easy to see why President Obama could never appease the far Left. How can you satisfy people who think that everyone is a war criminal? How can you satisfy people who call others racist and hate mongers if they don't agree with you? How can you satisfy people who are so self absorbed and selfish that they see nothing else as legitimate except their own narrow views? You can never satisfy a Liberal because there is nothing that satisfies them. They understand nothing, and they hold our way of life in complete and utter contempt.

Posted by: bobbo2 | August 23, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

To swanieaz
There is a perfectly defensible, constitutional position for the Obama Administration to take regarding its prosecution of the fight against terrorism which has a different underlying basis from that used by Bush.
Bush contended that the struggle against Al Qaeda and other Islamic-affiliated terrorists constituted a war, and that therefore he could exercise powers as Commander-in-Chief.
Obama contends that the majority of actions in this struggle can be completed using the criminal justice system, but that some actions will require his authorization of actions as Commander-in-Chief.
Actually, both are shortsighted.
The situation that the US faces with Al Qaeda is very, very similar from a legal standpoint to that faced in antiquity by Rome, Persia and China when plagued with bandits and pirates. They didn't declare war on the bandits and pirates, and they didn't capture them and drag them into court (and they all had legal systems). Instead, they exterminated them.

Obama has the inherent authority to protect the American public, under the Second Amendment to the constitution. A free people with the right to keep and bear arms also has a right to use them in self-defense. The pacing item for self defense is that national-level law and order in Pakistan and Afghanistan is pretty much non-existent. You can't issue an Interpol warrant for Osama Bin Laden or others like him and expect that he's going to be arrested by a legally constituted government in order to be brought to trial. So, in the absence of effective action by a legally constituted government, you do as you have the inherent right to do under the Second Amendment. You wipe him out before he can do the same to you, just as the Romans, Persians and Chinese did in antiquity and just as countless governments all over the world have done since in similar circumstances. And there's absoluely nothing wrong with Obama doing this; nothing whatsoever. Unlike Bush, Obama recognizes that when the criminal justice system CAN be utilized, it should be. Because ultimately these people really are criminals, not warriors.

Posted by: stillaliberal | August 23, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Ronald Reagan's ideology - tax cuts for the rich and deregulation of the financial industry - directly led to the financial meltdown.

Obama made no attempt to connect the dots as to what led the this catastrophe, and then connect the dots on how to fix it.

Ideas matter, and conservative ideas led to disaster. Why didn't Obama underline this fact? He's black. He can't be liberal b/c if he is he's Jesse Jackson.

We cannot have a progressive movement without progressive idealists. The conservative opposition doesn't just want Obama to fail, they want the *country* to fail. There is no bargaining with these criminals. What has he ever gotten in dealing with them?

Posted by: dmblum | August 23, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

President Weirdo is not crazy enough?

You kids need to get out of this WaPo basement (and your parents' basement).

Posted by: happyacres | August 23, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

are we these naive?
the left and the right are controlled by same elders
aka darkcabal
sitting on looted gold...
skeptics are wrong !
the best mental wrestling
barackobama vs d' invisible ones
is yet to come.
meanwhile we shall ask ourselves
progressives..thinkers
.really?

Posted by: manittou | August 23, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

I'll never forgive Obama for throwing public education and educators under the bus. He has more uncompromising than George Bush when in comes to public education.

Posted by: lacy41 | August 23, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

54465446

Healthcare: From Reuters:

"By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON | Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:48pm EDT
(Reuters) - Americans spend twice as much as residents of other developed countries on healthcare, but get lower quality, less efficiency and have the least equitable system, according to a report released on Wednesday.
_______________________________________________________________

I don't know anyone who doesn't admit that the US healthcare system is one of the worst in the world, anyone who reads, that is. High cost for poor results.

Regarding Glass-Steagall, how do you know what my expertise is in the financial system?

Glass- Steagall worked fine from the 1930's until Clinton dismantled it. I want it re-enacted and I want the whole financial industry, especially banking, re-structured.

Give me one reason why Glass-Steagall should not be re-enacted. A good reason based on sound economics, not some right wing rant.

Posted by: flamingliberal | August 23, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

FLAMINGLIBERAL:

I actually read the report you suggested. It turns out there are only 6 countries involved, (Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia) not the whole world. Of those six, we are the only one without universal health care, which is the main thrust of the report. The report is actually a survey of patients' attitudes. In fact this is effectively speaking a public opinion poll, not an actual study of any kind. Great Britain came out first or second in most categories. The main thrust of the report, when you actually read it, is the unfair nature of our system, and how we pay a lot for health care. If you believe in the concept of universal government run health care, then we do not fair well, common sense. There is really no comparison of health care, just of patient's ATTITUDES toward their health care. So you see, when you take a headline as fact, you become a member of the Fox News team. I'm glad that people in these other countries are happy with their health care, but they really know nothing about ours do they? I personally know three doctors from Australia and GB who moved here to practice medicine. I don't know their motivation, so I'm not going to headline my story "Doctors From British Commonwealth Nations Migrate to Practice Better Medicine in US" See the difference?

Posted by: 54465446 | August 23, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

FLAMINGLIBERAL:

I know your financial expertise, because no one who has any is asking for a return of Glass-Steagall. It was in fact excellent legislation for it's time, and served us well.

Had it not been repealed 11 years ago, it might have continued to prove effective. HOWEVER in the time it has been gone the whole world has changed. You can't simply bring back legislation from the past and say "round up the old gang, we're going back out on to the road!" The two sponsors of the legislation to re-enact Senators McCain and Cantwell have absolutely zero knowledge of the banking and finance industry today. I yield to no one in my admiration for Senator McCain's personal character and attributes, but his total lack of knowledge of finance and banking has been apparent his whole career. You will no doubt recall his role as a dupe in the Savings and Loan Crisis years ago. Senator Cantwell is a lifetime politico who somehow managed to come up with enough stock options during a short stint at Real Networks to become a millionaire, a situation that has never been adequately explained.

Like you I wish for better regulation of the entire finance industry. Unfortunately the leadership of the most recent reform act, Senator Dodd and Congressman Frank had particularly weak hands to play because of personal involvement in the housing problem, and because President Obama failed to see this as a priority issue while he dithered over health care for an entire year. By the time the bill was passed the crisis atmosphere that had enabled a strong bill like the original Glass-Steagall had cooled too much.

Unfortunately this board, and all boards at newspapers, are the equivalent of Parisian mobs yelling "off with their heads" without any thought as to how we got here, or what comes next.

Posted by: 54465446 | August 23, 2010 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama could have tried to force a stronger liberal program but would have gone nowhere even faster than he has - other Democrats would not have supported him.

The people of this nation are not liberal progressives. They are majoritarily moderate to conservative and against most of Obama's decisions as they stand.

Those are simple facts.

Unless the left manages to control themselves enough to communicate their positions without systematically insulting and putting their fellow citizens down, they will simply continue to be frustrated.

Posted by: sally62 | August 23, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Some of us on the left are ok with Obama. We're pretty thrilled to see the glass 75% full instead of insisting that it's totally empty just because we didn't get everything we wanted right away. In fact Obama is quite refreshing after the years of drought we've endured for the greed and wars that are the the fount of Republicans.

Posted by: wd1214 | August 23, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse


Welll...looking at the new "left" complaints,
like, for example, the LIBERAL'
John Judis (of the New Republic!)

they look inexplicably like those of them NEOCONS, Israel firsters like Krauthammer and Cohen and Kristol of the WaPo, for example.
That's not too hard to figure out, is it? With Obama not pleasing Netanyahu that much?

Posted by: whistling | August 23, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Why is the left so disappointed in Obama?

Obama has shown poor judgment on major issues and no backbone.

A lot of democrats are going to lose their jobs this midterm election because of this and Obama will not recover in 2012.

Posted by: politicalman | August 24, 2010 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Greg good buddy, you have dutifully moved from the official, shiny new narrative, to a false conclusion.

"Historic Success! Bigger if not for those evil, racist say no-ers!

GZ Mosque, Guantanamo, DADT, Gay marriage,
single payer, many subjects, millions of words.

Mr Obama's "fetishizing" of bipartisanship was as sincere as the rest of the bits.

So what drugs are you on? On the level of leftist addling, this rates maybe a little marijuana on the scale.

Time to move to the acid.
"Bush's Fault".


Posted by: Wapid | August 24, 2010 6:13 AM | Report abuse

The GOP and its members have consistently and repeatedly stated that bipartisanship is "date rape." How could anyone reasonably assume that bipartisanship under those circumstances and conditions is desirable?
The Obama administration is an administration of half-measures and talking itself out of its better nature. None of its policy "triumphs" have produced squat in the near term where it counts; stimulus is still weak to laughable, medical insurance reform was abortive from the beginning with corrupt backroom deals by the administration, and the economy is in the toilet while banks, financiers and other "malefactors of great wealth" are hoarding their money while receiving repeated hand jobs from the administration. Obama's continuation of the fascist totalitarian Bush presidency policies in the war on "terror", the bill of rights and American citizens is a black joke.
How hard do they have to work to demonstrate to the American voter that no matter how they vote, they are just voting for another BOHICA scenario? How hard will Obama keep working to prove that he is equivalent to W?

Posted by: sparkplug1 | August 24, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

"Posted by: wbgonne | August 23, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

It was always clear, even during the campaign, how slavishly Obama would hew to the 50 yard line, no matter where the endzones were.

Realizing this, the Republicans moved their goalpost into the overflow parking lot. And the White House, thinking itself ever so clever, followed.

Posted by: Itzajob"

Meanwhile Pelosi thinks they're all playing basketball and she only needs to game plan for 5 players, not 11 necessary to work. Her ambitious agenda continues to fall flat in the Senate because she doesn't have the vote and has caused enmity between herself and the moderates of her party. Republicans, realizing this, have allowed the moderate Democrats the ability to object.

Posted by: cprferry | August 25, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

"As an Independent, who reads everything I can on what's ACTUALLY going on in Obama's Administration, I think he has went too far left and am glad that a majority of Americans from all political affiliations, are finally realizing this fact.
Posted by: janet8"

You are the reason for this blog posting and the fears of the left. It's always true that the ruling party loses steam. They fail, make compromises, fail to inspire their base. The base also gets complacent. The general public less active. However, for the most part, a weakened majority is enough to sustain small losses. The problem this year is that the general public has not become less active. Independents and people who would otherwise skip the mid-terms hate the Democrats right now. Weakened majority vs. minority, the Democrats stand a chance. Not so with an active independent movement against the President and the party, or incumbents in general.

Posted by: cprferry | August 25, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

There are a lot of things the left is upset about. Does anyone recall the campaign promising accountability for Bush/Cheney and the rest of the people in W's administration who broke laws? For a very long time we were treated to assurances that if we elected the dems there would be a thorough investigation of all of the things these guys did to violate the law. Once in office, the Dems dropped that whole idea. Pelosi and company came out with: Impeachment is off the table. The message to the voters was loud and clear: Corruption? So what! If we don't move on we will never get to accomplish all things we want to do. At first the public was four square behind health care reform. Instead of moving forward and expending some political capital, they fooled around and allowed the Republicans to set the agenda and the theme of that whole issue. Of course, Republicans repeat falsehoods enough times, the press dutifully reported the distortions as if they were fact. The American people obviously are not going to spend the 10 minutes on google fact checking. Even if this had been delayed 20 years the right was not going to come on board. What passed was a watered down version that even supporters didn't want. So, we neither got a fair and objective investigation to make sure law breakers were accountable, nor did we get the legislative changes that were promised. We can talk all day about the mood of the left, but I suspect at the end of that day we can & will agree that our disenchantment comes from promises not kept. Once again, it's just business as usual in old DC. Change? What change?

Posted by: cybersleuth58 | August 28, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

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